A SERIAL shoplifter, with an “appalling” record for motoring misdemeanours, has answered for a series of such offences last year.

John Battman, who has 38 convictions for 91 past offences, received a roll-up sentence of 28 months for three crimes in separate locations.

Durham Crown Court heard he was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting in York after a store security guard suspected he had removed labels on £19 honey jars, on the afternoon of February 1

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said on his release ‘under investigation’ Battman handed custody officers a craft knife which he claimed he had forgotten he was carrying in a trouser pocket.

Before charges were brought over that incident the banned driver was spotted at the wheel of a Peugeot car, in Edgware, London, on August 5 and led police on a dangerous high-speed chase, mounting kerbs and crossing into the opposite carriageway in heavy traffic.

Police decided to abandon the pursuit on safety grounds when Battman drove into a residential area, where children were playing.

He was not arrested until August 29, after he was found with £709-worth of unpaid spirits bottles inside silver foil in a bag, outside Tesco, in Bishop Auckland.

The foil was intended to prevent alarms deploying from the bottle tags, which Battman had tried to remove with use of a screw driver.

Mr Dryden said the next day he was charged for all of the offences and has since remained in police custody.

Battman, of Aldfrid Place, Newton Aycliffe, admitted theft and possessing a bladed article, arising from the York offence, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and without insurance, stemming from the London car chase, and theft plus going equipped for theft, as a result of the Tesco shoplifting attempt in late August.

Emma Hughes, mitigating, said he was arrested for the Bishop Auckland incident two days before he was due to attend an appointment to address his drug addiction.

She told the court no-one was hurt in the car chase.

But Judge Christopher Prince told her that was, “just pure luck”, as the defendant could easily have “maimed or even killed” pedestrians and other road users.

Jailing him and imposing a 26-month driving ban, the judge told Battman he had shown, “a complete and utter disregard for court orders”.